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Exploring the life in Dubai before invasion of Skyscrapers and Ferraris

Dubai was not the same global emirate as we see it today. A long stay in Dubai gave me the opportunity to go to the museum and explore the early life in Dubai, its culture and traditions in the old days.

The museum is located in the Al Fahidi fort built in 1787 and the oldest building in Dubai.

The settlement

As per the archaeological excavations human existence in this part of world has been dated to as early as 8000 BC. From 3rd century onwards Dubai was a pre-islamic community led by Sassanian Empire, it was only in the 7th century Islam was introduced here by Umayyad Caliph group.


The foundation for Modern Dubai’s history was laid by Al-Falasi clan led by the Makhthoum Family in the 19th century. Dubai was a major fishing and pearl culturing community in the early 19th century.


The people taking part in pearl fishery were called ghawawis. All Ghawawis would take boats and search for pearls for almost 120 days. They would take short trips to island of Dalma for refilling the food and condiments.




life in dubai


This operation was carried on large sailing vessels known as Dhows which could accommodate a crew of almost 30 people. Smaller boats known as Abras were used to ferry people for short refill trips. The modern motored version of these can still be found at the Dubai Creek.





Decline of pearl fishery

It was the First World War and the Great depression which seriously destroyed the pearl fishery industry.

By 1947 with defeat in the Indian subcontinent, British government became weak to retain the gulf region.  At the same time in the early 1960s oil was discovered which helped Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Makhtoum, the ruler of Dubai to use oil revenues to improve the quality of life in Dubai.  In 1971 British government acknowledged it incapability to offer security to the region and ended the truce with the Sheikhdoms.


By this time Dubai was declared as an autnomous state and using the strength of the oil revenue and a clear vision to bring Dubai on world map the rulers developed the Emirate into a world class tourist destination. Recently in 2013, 90% of the total revenue of dubai was generated from tourism and business making it less dependant on oil revenues and more sustainable for future growth.

Today Dubai has set very high benchmarks with its construction and engineering marvels on a global level. What this global destination has in store for future needs to be seen.


What do you think of life in Dubai? Know anything else about Dubai’s history? Let us know in the comment section below. Also spread the knowledge with your friends by hitting the share buttons below.

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